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Albania: Joint project to rebuild and strengthen education after natural disasters

Two education unions in Albania have launched a project to prioritise education after natural disasters. The move will build on lessons learned in the wake of a massive earthquake in 2019.

The Independent Trade Union of Education of Albania (SPASH) and the Trade Union Federation of Education and Science of Albania (FSASH) have announced the beginning of activities in their joint “Prioritising education after natural disasters” project.
 
The implementation of these activities will be financed by Education International’s Solidarity Fund. Many affiliates contributed to the Fund after Education International launched an Urgent Action Appeal for its Albanian affiliates after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Albania on 26 November. 
 
SPASH and FSASH announced the launch of this project during a conference held on 9 September in Vora – one of the cities close to the epicentre of the earthquake, which was ravaged by it. The implementation of these activities, agreed on 23 March, was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
Safer schools and different perspectives
 
The two education unions aim to organise four one-day workshops over a three-month period in affected areas. Twenty-five participants from these affected areas are expected to participate in each workshop. Brochures containing information about both unions and instructions regarding different emergency situations will be distributed at these events, and participants will be asked to share them with their colleagues. 
 
Participants will include representatives of local education authorities or the Education Ministry, who will be able to see the situation from a teacher’s perspective and appreciate the need for acting and investing in safer schools.
 
Workshop topics
 
Among topics to be discussed during workshops are: 
  • How to act in classrooms in case of an emergency, especially an earthquake 
  • How to manage students in emergency situations
  • How to reduce student and colleague trauma in such situations
  • Returning to school after a natural disaster/earthquake in safe school environments
  • Impact of natural disasters on education
 
Objectives
 
The workshops have the following objectives:  
  • Informing teachers and school leaders to be prepared to deal with crisis situations, especially natural disasters 
  • Strengthening the bond among teachers and between teachers and their unions
  • Strengthening the social partnership between education unions and local education authorities and building cooperation with different actors to highlight education when confronted with natural disasters
  • Publicising these activities among teachers and using them to help organise 
  • Preparing a proposal for changing the school curricula for the school year 2020-2021. The outcomes from these workshops will be used to prepare proposals to be brought to the Ministry of Education
 
Background
 
On 26 November 2019, the strongest earthquake in 40 years hit Albania, resulting in loss of life, and causing significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. At least 51 people died, including children. 
 
Education International’s national affiliates reported that around 1,000 people had been injured, over 6,000 buildings damaged, and some 9,000 people left homeless.
 
The Albanian authorities declared that at least 60 schools were unsafe.
 
SPASH and FSASH created a joint Emergency Board to monitor the situation and set up a fund to provide immediate assistance to affected children and teachers. Due to the unions’ limited resources, this fund could not meet all the needs identified. The unions indicated that they required assistance with training for teachers on how to deal with traumatised students and materials for teaching and learning.